It is difficult to learn correctly even the simplest standing Qigong exercise from written instructions. Learning the walking exercise this way will be more difficult. However, for those who do not have access to an instructor, you can have fun trying out these instructions.
THE BASIC QIGONG WALK
There are many variations of the Qigong Walk, each with certain benefits for different organ systems. They are all modifications of the basic walk ( also called ‘natural walk’ ), which is itself actually an extension of the basic Qigong stance.
There are five parts of the walk that are different from our usual walk, and these changes ensure that the mind is always aware of all the actions ( movements and breathing ) during the walk, and qi flow is enhanced.
1) THE FOOTSTEP
When we walk, most of us do so almost in a flat-footed manner, with the front part of the foot only minimally inclined upwards as we take each step. Some are actually flat-footed while others drag their feet.
In the Qigong walk, we deliberately step on our heel, with the foot inclined about 30 degrees upwards as we take each step. Doing so is particularly good for qi flow in the kidney meridian channels, which is essential for general health.
Note that the legs are always relaxed and slightly bent at the knees. If you straighten and stiffen your legs, and do the Qigong step, you will be walking Nazi-style.
2) THE ARM SWING
In our usual walk, we swing the opposite arm forward as we take each step. This swing is automatic. Nobody walks normally without moving the arms. In the Qigong Walk, the arms are swung to the front of the body instead, with the hands coming near the lower main energy centre ( Dan Tien ) which is situated about three fingerbreadths below the navel ( and about the same distance internally ). On the backswing, the hands come beside the buttocks but not as far back as in the usual walk.
There are differences in the hand position for those with health problems. For healthy people, the palms face the body, whereas they face the ground or upwards for different diseases. For some diseases, the fingers point downwards.
3) MODIFIED BREATHING
When we walk, our breathing is so spontaneous that we hardly think about it. In the Qigong Walk, the breathing is made mindful by modifying the inhalation. We inhale twice ( two sniffs ) and then exhale as usual. It is possible to do so only with conscious-breathing. Breathing is through the nose, with the tongue always touching the upper palate.
The breathing is coordinated with the footstep, and since the latter is coordinated with the arm-swing, all three components are therefore consciously coordinated.
In the basic walk, the inhalation is simultaneous with the foot that takes the first step. Males start with the left foot, and females with the right. As explained previously, there are differences in the Yin and Yang ( female and male ) qi.
4) SIDEWAYS BODY SWING
In our usual walk, we actually swing the body very slightly to balance it as we lift each leg alternately to step forward. This is necessary since the centre of gravity is shifted as we lift each leg. In the Qigong Walk, the swing is exaggerated, and becomes obvious if the walk is done slowly.
5) HEAD TURNING
In the basic Qigong Walk, we turn the head about 60 degrees sideways every 2,4,6 or 8 steps ( usually 4 ). This is coordinated with the feet, with the head always turning towards the side of the foot that is in front. This will facilitate the incorporation of modifications when the variations of the Qigong Walk are learned later.
During the Qigong Walk, look into the distant horizon and not at your feet. Initially, walk at whatever pace is comfortable for you. Different paces are recommended for different diseases.
The proper starting stance is unique but will not be described here. It will certainly be taught if you learn from an instructor.
This basic Qigong Walk is an excellent exercise for everyone to increase qi quickly. Twenty minutes of walking with inhalation on one foot, followed by another 20 minutes with inhalation on the other foot ( a short standing exercise with arm movements is done in between ) is the minimum exercise recommended. Another 20 minutes of stationary or other walking exercises will complete the required 1 hour of Qigong daily that is necessary to maintain optimum health.
Those with serious illnesses and cancers have to do up to 4 hours a day to reverse their diseases. This is usually split into morning and evening sessions, with plenty of rest in between each exercise. If they are too weak, they start with whatever they can cope with and increase the duration gradually. Those who are bed-ridden or immobile can start with the stationary exercises first ( standing, sitting or even lying down ).
It is not difficult to do the various Qigong Walks for longer durations because you do not get tired if you walk correctly, and you do not get bored if you walk among the fresh air, trees and interesting sceneries found in the parks and lake gardens. You will feel refreshed and charged-up with health-giving internal energy after each session.
It is truly amazing that just modifying the components of our usual walk has made it possible to reverse serious and terminal diseases. In Malaysia alone, every Sunday morning, many terminal-cancer survivors and several hundred non-terminal-cancer survivors do the Qigong Walk in the various parks all over the country. And there are many more cancer patients diligently practising in the hope of defeating the disease. Every week scores of cancer patients are joining these groups after hearing about what Qigong can do for them.
However, you should not wait until you get cancer to start practising Qigong. Prevention is better than cure, and you will gain health, vitality, rejuvenation and longevity in the process.